When my wife and I married in 1970 we bought a modest privately built home in Garran – then a newly developed suburb – for the grand sum of $14,000. That covered the house and land. In the five years we stayed there, our two children were born.
Many years later we were disturbed to find out that the house had been declared a Mr Fluffy house and was to be demolished. We had no knowledge during our time there that the house contained asbestos fill and I subsequently discovered from the son of the couple who bought the house from us (we belong to the same club) was also unaware.
Having spent five years in a house presumably with loose fill and given the concerns re the possibility of severe illness arising many year later I rang the Asbestos Task Force. They claimed they could give me no information of when the fill had been put there – privacy concerns were mentioned – despite the fact that they must have had some reason to declare our original home one of the Mr Fluffy houses. It was suggested I should consult with the titles office to see if they held any information.
Given that no one was taking any responsibility for this debacle, I have watched with interest the ensuing actions by the ACT government, particularly in relation to buying owners out, the high price demanded for those owners to get back on their blocks and now the auction of the blocks which undoubtedly the government hopes to make a killing from.
My home was at 18 Sabine Close and the adjacent property at number 20 was also apparently contaminated. I watched as both houses were demolished – number 18 much later than number 20.
About a year ago construction of a new house commenced at number 20. Much to my surprise, this partially completed building was itself demolished which left two adjacent cleared and presumably remediated blocks for sale. The recent auction of the remediated blocks – some single and a few double blocks – realised the grand total of $1.9m for the original two in Sabine Close.
I was informed by the auctioneers that in accordance with new planning rules, the developer who bought the blocks would most likely cram as many apartments/units as possible onto the dual site. Such a development would unfortunately alter the character of this quiet cul de sac.
The topography of the two blocks in Sabine Close is very steep and without major excavation will make it difficult for multi-unit development.
I wonder if the developer has been told about the spring which regularly caused flooding in the basement of our original house.
Recent actions by the ACT government seem to reinforce the desire to eliminate as many single occupancy blocks as possible, forcing dual occupancy and multi-unit living as standard. Combined with the infill of any available green space, the ‘bush capital’ is rapidly becoming a thing of the past – despite the recent new number plate slogan.
Photo: Cleared block at 18 and 20 Sabine Close, Garran. Photo by Roger Allnutt.